Hilda, riding Wintersnow at Grand Prix, was the first rider of the day. Normally when I watch a dressage test, I focus on the horse only and forget that there is even a rider on board, but not on Saturday. I made sure to focus on the rider and her aids. I already know what the horse is supposed to look like. What I need to better learn is what a good rider looks like. Hilda doesn’t make it look easy, but she does look strong. Wintersnow is a big horse and he didn’t look like he was having his best day. Even so, Hilda kept him together.
Throughout the course of the day, I saw horses that were soft and round one minute, inverted the next. There were horses that spooked in the corner; horses that didn’t have much activity, horses that didn’t lengthen; and so on. I saw some very lovely riders, especially at Fourth Level and above, and I saw some really poor riders, and surprisingly, they weren’t at Introductory Level.
Saturday was a great learning day for me. It really helped to illustrate that dressage is not easy for anyone. Every rider out there is struggling with something. I’ve had it in my mind that if I could only get through Training Level, my problems will be over. Saturday’s classes showed me that I need to change my expectations, or I will forever be disappointed. There is no promised land. As you get better, the tests just get harder. I think the trick is to always ride in the moment. Michael Schaffer, who wrote Riding in the Moment, says on the final page of his book, “Much more important than moving on at exactly the right time, or picking exactly the right exercise, or always riding just the right way, is having exactly the right attitude… Attitude Trumps Technique.”
I think I am getting the right attitude. More tomorrow …